The explosion in lower Manhattan in New York City on March 26 that destroyed three buildings, ripped through others, left dozens of people injured and two people missing as of the time of this writing has sparked a bit of a peak in interest across New York City in renewable energy. It has been less than a day since the blaze raged through the corner of Second Avenue and East Seventh Street, but companies that promote clean energy began making the rounds at businesses and residences within hours of the explosion to, of course, drive business, but also to prompt discussion around environmentally-conscious energy alternatives. While the investigation into the explosion’s cause is still in process, it is preliminarily believed to have happened because of gas work occurring in one of the buildings.
One could see these visits as businesses capitalizing on tragedy to self-promote. Nonetheless, sparking the discussion around the availability and cost-effectiveness of alternative energy sources is important. And switching to cleaner energy — oftentimes for lower cost than fossil fuel-based sources — is what many New Yorkers are increasingly considering. The debate also brings to light some of New York state’s current concerns for the future of its renewable markets.
New York has been a leader in the United States for its clean energy plans and renewable developments; on Monday, March 2nd, between 1:00 and 2:00pm, wind power provided a new record of the state’s electricity needs: 7%. The state is increasingly drawing power from wind and solar, and the state’s renewable energy standard is set to expire at the end of this year. Environmental activists are pushing for not just a renewed standard, but a more aggressive one. Alternatively, if the state decides not to extend the standard, renewable markets will take a significant hit.
But the state’s leaders have been consistently pushing into green technology. Governor Andrew Cuomo launched the Green Bank last October to stimulate millions of dollars of funding for clean energy technology development. And the state has been one of a few that has annually been on track to meet its renewable use mandates. Activists are hoping that New York’s historical record ahead of the game in terms of clean tech spells a renewed standard for energy needs.